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Labels Play Many Marketing Roles

Labels In Storytelling, Shelf Impact, Brand Recognition…

custom labels from Lightning Labels MarketingWeek magazine details the weighty burden that packaging (and therefore labeling) plays in product marketing and consumer sentiment. Among the areas tying into packaging and custom labels are storytelling, brand recognition and shelf impact.

Ed Woodcock, strategy director of Australian beauty brand Aesop, explains his view of this multifaceted role in an article published recently in MarketingWeek. He notes, “When a shopper is weighing up what to buy, it’s packaging that prompts the pivotal ‘moment of truth.’”

He then details a New York Times columnist wanting to demonstrate how “story” impacts consumer assessment of value: “…it’s not just products in themselves that we value, but also the story that goes with them…So he decided to conduct an experiment.”

Woodcock then tells the tale of the columnist purchasing 100 worn-down items from flea market and thrift shops, then paired each with talented writers tasked with telling a short story about the object to give it new meaning. “The results were astounding,” writes Woodcock. “The average rise in value was 2,700 per cent. A 33c mallet sold for $71. A 25c plastic banana fetched $76.”

Adds Woodcock, “The experiment is a reminder that branding is much like storytelling. Brands attribute meaning to objects and charge otherwise functional products with emotion, much like the stories in the experiment. Marketing is a form of storytelling…It’s a nice anecdote, but what’s this got to do with design?...The obvious answer is that packaging should tell a story…”

Can Product Packaging Tell A Story?

He elaborates, “Ask any designer if packaging can tell a story, and the unequivocal answer will be: ‘Yes, of course!’ By means of colour, visual metaphor, symbol, texture and materials, you can create a mood and a feeling…copywriters can add an engaging tone of voice.

“So, yes, packaging can tell a story. But it has a lot of other responsibilities too; not least shelf impact, product delivery and brand recognition…One of the primary functions of packaging is to help consumers make a choice at the shelf. It prompts a ‘moment of truth’. Many of the choices we make at the supermarket shelf are habitual: we like what we know…But charge a brand with enough meaning and emotion, and consumers can be persuaded to make a change…”

Given the many hats that packaging and labels can wear, it’s important to carefully think through development of these critical elements—not just throw something together as an afterthought. As Woodcock points out, “Packaging is often your brand’s most important medium.”

This is all great food for thought. To get from thought to action, first decide priority. While storytelling, brand recognition and shelf impact are all vitally important, what’s your top concern today? Then, decide how the other areas can support the process.

For example, let’s say your shelf impact isn’t where you want it to be. Will a new label design help you better stand out from the crowd? How can you ramp up overall brand recognition with an indelible tie to the label, so that people seeing your product(s) on the shelf will have an “aha” moment? What stories can you create that also tie to the labeling, further enhancing shelf recognition?

Think About What You Want Your Label Design To Do

Rethinking your label design in light of its weighty role in marketing your product? When you’re ready to go, we’re ready to help you get there.